It seems that people with a technology device in hand reading, texting, taking a selfie and all in the name of immediate social response. Combine this with the overstuffed, improperly worn backpacks and we are setting ourselves up for a critical storm. These poorly worn and over used devices are putting undue stress on our spine and nervous system affecting the structure, function and physiology of our bodies.
The spine is made up of 24 vertebrae. When positioned and functioning properly, the spine is designed to resist the heaviest of loads. Take away the ideal position combined with repetitive static loads and the spine becomes weakened and subject to premature wearing, pain, and stiffness. The compromised tissues structure over time will increase our susceptibility to sudden injury and even sickness.
Research proves that abnormal spine health and posture leads to an imbalance in hormones. A study from 2014 showed that repetitive poor posture, particularly of the head and neck caused LOW T (testosterone), reduced serotonin, increased cortisol and more. In the 2014 study, published in the Surgical Technology International Journal, billions of people were found to be using cell phone devices daily. Stresses on the spine from constantly looking down at a cell phone is very damaging to short and long term health. This study evaluated forward head flexion stress on the human spine and corresponding body function.
The findings were remarkable:
- The study assessed the forces placed on the spine as the head is tilted forward into worsening posture.
- The study evaluated the stress using an average head weight of 13.2 pounds.
- The weight added to the spine dramatically increases when flexing for varying degrees. 0 degrees increased weight on the neck by 10 to 12 pounds. 15 degrees increased weight on the neck by 27 pounds. 30 degrees increased the weight on the neck by 40 pounds. 45 degrees increased the weight on the neck by 49 pounds. And 60 degrees increased the weight on the neck by 60 pounds.
- Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. The stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.
- Good posture is defined as ears aligned with the shoulders and shoulder retracted. With proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished.
- Good posture was associated with much more than just bad backs or bad necks. Good posture helped increase good hormones. Good posture was linked to higher testosterone, increases in serotonin, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power. Poor posture is associated with reductions in testosterone levels, reduced serotonin, increased cortisol and reduced feelings of power.
- Poor posture occurs with the head in a tilted forward position and the shoulders drooping forward in a rounded position.
- An average person spends 2 to 4 hours a day with their heads forward for reading and texting on their smart phones, amassing 700 to 1400 hours of excess, abnormal cervical spine stress per year. It was also noted that a high school student may even spend an extra 5000 hours in poor posture per year.
Beyond spinal and muscle injuries, improper posture influences all aspect of human performance through the endocrine system. As evidenced through this research, poor posture negatively influences levels of testosterone, serotonin, cortisol and feelings of power. As technology continues to govern more and more of societal functions, the need for practitioners who positively influence posture increases. Unfortunately, most of society still believes that poor posture is more of a cosmetic issue than a health issue. Because of this, awareness and education is the key to making change.
Chiropractors are key leaders to improving quality and longevity of life in all men and women by improving the health and function through postural alignment.
Quick tips to minimize the costly damages of technology and backpacks.
- Limit use of technology.
- Maintain proper posture while using technology and backpacks.
- Do regular spinal postural stretching and movement exercises.
- Drink the proper amount of daily water.
- Stand, stretch and move regularly.
If you feel problems are persisting find a chiropractor to do a postural analysis to assess the potential damages. Like Us!
Surgical Technology International Journal 2014 Nov;25: 277-9. Hansraj, KK.